If you follow Christin’s Facebook posts, you’ve seen pictures these last two days of the fawn who come onto our porch and stared through the window as if to say “I need help.” She proceeded down past the benches and through the railing began gorging on a bush and berries that we’d seen no deer touch before. Whether she was trying to purge or downing the equivalent of Socrates’ hemlock, we couldn’t guess. Then she curled up against the warm wall of the house to await the inevitable.
I thought of the old man Silas in Robert Frost’s poem “The Death of the Hired Man” who came “home” to Mary and Warren’s house for his final hours.
“Euthanize her,” said the biologist when we called Fish and Wildlife. “It’s the right thing to do.” But which of us could pull the trigger? We’d admired and loved this fawn and her brother since they were spotted newborns. We decided instead to keep her as comfortable as possible and talk her through her passing. She finally let go in subfreezing temperatures about 3 am the next morning.
We took her down the hill to our lower woods at daybreak and settled her remains at the base of a sturdy double-trunked oak. She half disappeared into the fallen leaves, disguising herself as a broken limb in her dark grey coat.
That afternoon, the mother and her other fawn (the one-spiked unicorn) froze for a moment on our lawn staring down the hill as if they’d caught a whiff of the body. They’d had a death in their family, as had we, for we feel a true kinship with all the wild things who share “our” land.
Rest in peace, little girl.